3 Ways to Cope With the Stress of Infertility

stressed woman looking at pregnancy test

It is normal to feel frustrated while dealing with infertility. However, it is important to limit stress as much as possible.

Shvetha Zarek, MD
Shvetha Zarek, MD

“Stress releases a hormone called cortisol, and elevated levels of cortisol are believed to affect your ovulation and fertility,” said Shvetha Zarek, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist with MU Health Care. “Think of it like a cycle: Stress can increase your risk of infertility, and infertility will likely increase your stress. Women who are trying to conceive should aim to break this cycle.”

To help reduce their patients’ stress, Zarek and the infertility team at MU Health Care foster a relaxed and supportive atmosphere in their clinic. They strive to connect with patients as friends, not just as medical professionals.

Outside the clinic, Zarek and the team suggest women follow these three tips:

  • Move Your Body. “Moderate exercise provides a double whammy of benefits to women experiencing infertility,” Zarek said. “It is a great stress-buster, and it also helps regulate your menstrual cycle and fertility.”

    Be careful, though. Too much strenuous exercise can actually have the opposite effect on your menstrual cycle and overall fertility. Your doctor can help you identify a healthy level of physical activity.
  • Join a Support Group. Whether in-person or online, it is helpful to connect with women and couples who are also undergoing infertility treatment.

    “Support groups are a great way to relieve stress, because you’re talking to folks who are going through something very similar to what you’re going through,” Zarek said. “Your family and friends can also be supportive, but they don’t necessarily know what infertility feels like. That’s the huge plus of support groups.”
  • Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others. Don’t expect to have the same experience as the other people you meet along the way. 

    “Everyone's fertility journey is unique,” Zarek said. “Don’t get too caught up in which specific treatments your peers are exploring or how long it takes them to conceive. Comparing yourself to others might lead you to believe something is wrong, when in reality, you are doing great, and you are on your way to getting pregnant.”
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